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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 18:28 GMT
Koran to be translated into Irish
Plans have been announced in the Irish Republic to translate the Koran, Islam's most sacred text, into Irish.

The ambitious project aims to bring Ireland's Gaelic-speakers and Muslim communities closer together, Leslie Carter of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin said.

A 700-year-old Koran in the British Library
The aim will be to produce a faithful translation
Local Muslim leaders have welcomed the move, although they say it will be a challenge to produce a reliable and accurate translation.

The Islamic community is the fastest growing religious minority in Ireland, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

It is estimated around 18,000 Muslims live there, out of a total population of nearly four million.

The Islamic Cultural Centre is working on the project with help from Foras na Gaeilige, a body set up to promote Gaelic throughout the island of Ireland.

"It's an absolutely huge job," Ms Carter admitted. "The difficult part will be getting translators, because we need people who have good Arabic and good Irish."

In order to ensure that none of the meaning is lost, the aim is to translate the Koran directly from Arabic to Irish, rather than from Arabic to English and then into Irish.

"That means it will take a long time but we want to keep it as true to the original as we can," Ms Carter said.

Cultural links

Khosrou Kheradmand of University College Dublin's Islamic society told the Press Association that a number of people spoke both languages.

"There are many Muslims who were born here, have grown up here and who speak and have studied Irish," he said.

"This acknowledges the links between the two cultures. It will be interesting to see how it works.

Although parts of the Koran have been translated into Gaelic, the project, if successful, will be the first entire translation, Iman Al-Hussein, director of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, told PA.

Under the constitution of the Irish Republic, Gaelic is an official language.

Gaelic is a compulsory school subject, but only around 100,000 are estimated to have a degree of fluency.

Country profile: Ireland
07 Mar 03 |  Country profiles

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